The Chaise Lounge

Today we sold our chaise lounge. And I cried.

It had been sitting in our upstair living area (a space we don't use for "living" much) for the last two years, mostly unused, so we figured it was probably time to sell it and get it out of the way. I wasn't at all sentimental about it until it actually sold, and JP told me over the phone that the guy had just come and taken it away.

All of the sudden I felt like I was in the middle of one of those sappy video montages. I remembered the day JP and I picked it out at Ashley Furniture on impulse -- JP laid on it and sighed, "Oooooo, we have to get this." We tested it to make sure it was big enough for us to both snuggle on.

I remembered it being Jelani's seat of choice when he would come hang out at our house in Brooklyn Park. He would sit down, take of his sock and shoes, lay back and let the dogs lick his feet. So gross, right? But it's such a funny memory.

I remembered a 2-year-old Rae asking us every night if she could sleep on the "big chair" when we had it in our room at our Dayton house. We usually obliged, then we've transfer her to her own room when we went to bed. But sometimes we'd leave her there all night and she'd climb into bed with us in the morning. (Side note: Do you remember how cute Rae was at two? Click here.)

I remembered Christmas 2010, when the girls turned it into Santa's sleigh, piling it high with toys wrapped in blankets and putting their stick horses out front as reindeer. Rae started calling me "Wife" because she was Santa and I was Mrs. Clause. :)

Is it normal to get this emotional over one piece of furniture?

Fare thee well, chaise lounge. I hope your new owners treat you well.


Rae's First Lost Tooth

I wasn't too surprised when Rae came downstairs this morning with a small, white tooth in her hand saying, "Mom, look what I found in my mouth!" I had been expecting that first tooth to wiggle loose ever since her small accident that messed up her two top, front teeth a couple weeks ago.

I was surprised, however, when she smiled for me and I realized the disconnected tooth had come from her completely unaffected bottom set! I guess my baby girl is getting big no matter how I look at it!

I love this picture. Eyes and hair puffy from just waking up, yet her face has a certain subtle pride and excitement on it, like she knows this makes her "big."

I'm not going to start the whole tooth fairy thing. Call me a joy-kill if you'd like. :) Don't do Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny either (I know, right? What kind of boring nazi parents are we?). I have nothing against those who do, we just never did it growing up, so it has never been important to me. In fact, I remember telling my mom I was going to put my tooth under my pillow anyhow ("just in case") and waking up to find...nothing. :) Haha!

But I AM curious to know...do you do the Tooth Fairy/Santa/Easter Bunny thing at your house? Why or why not?


Ruby's Video

I can't get Ruby's video to load. :(

I had a similar problem with Rosie's First Year video that I finally finished.

Come on, Blogger!!!

Little Ninja Warriors

The cold has finally hit us here in this frozen tundra we call home, which means many more hours spent indoors with three wiggly kids. Many people have been complaining about the lack of snow and unusually warm temperatures we have had, but not me. I knew all too well that as soon as winter hit, we'd all be shocked back into Minnesota winter reality and remember exactly what it was that makes us beg for spring each year.

So before the arctic blast hit home, we soaked in every minute outside that we could. One of Rae's new favorite shows to watch with Daddy is Ninja Warrior. No, I didn't say American Ninja Warrior -- just Ninja Warrior. As in the Japanese version with subtitles that she can't read. But she doesn't care. Since we had just soaked in an episode before heading outside to soak in the 50 degree weather, we decided to set up our own obstacle course. The girls loved it, and they got great exercise in the process. They must have run this course more than a dozen times each.

Just one more way to get creative outdoors!

(Apparently Blogger isn't letting me load Ruby's video as well. Maybe I'll try it in a separate post.)

Now that it really is cold outside, the real challenge is to get more creative indoors. Sometimes that means sacrificing my sanity to let my children do things like this:

That is a wolf den (duh). It started as a spider web, then morphed into a wolf den with the addition of every clean kitchen towel in the drawer and every pillow or semi-large toy they could use as a "wall" for the den.

I like to think I'm a good mom for letting them get creative and do that. But don't think for a second that they didn't fold every one of those towels, put every single toy away, and untangle the web entirely by themselves. That's just part of the deal. :)

Other indoor winter activities have included fashion shows, building forts, baking, making crafts, painting, board games, making more trips to the library, extra reading, and embracing our church mom's group get-togethers and AWANA.

How are you letting your kids get creative this winter? Leave a comment...I'm always looking for new ideas!


The Greatest Gift of All

I couldn't bear for this photo to get buried at the bottom of that behemoth of a post. It's worthy of it's own blog entry.

The greatest gift of all this Christmas?

Well, obviously Jesus is the greatest gift of all, but He's the only one who could have given us this (click the image to make it larger):

Congratulations, Joe & Becky!!! :) We are so excited!!! (Due August 2012)

***(Please note: Becky gave me permission to post this on the blog, but please DO NOT SEND THEM ANY PUBLIC FACEBOOK CONGRATULATIONS as they don't want it floating around Facebook yet.)***

Christmas 2011

Rae is gone with Ava & G today, Ruby and Rosie just went down for their naps, and JP is working in his shop. I think this is finally the moment I'll have time to tackle the monster Christmas blog!

I hope and pray your holidays were blessed, relaxing, and healthy. Ours was blessed indeed, relatively restful, but not healthy. Still, we thank God for sparing us from the dreaded flu bug that has been making its way around social circles, as well as RSV.

Our Christmas celebrations began the weekend before Christmas as usual. Each year we spend that weekend with JP's dad & step-mom (Grampies & Gammy) so that the actual holiday is not quite so hectic. It's a trade-off to be sure, since we haven't seen them on Christmas Eve or Day in years, but the return is more time spent together. That's why we consider it a good trade.

Gammy had so many activities planned that we didn't even get to fit them all in. We started out with baking brownie cupcakes for Jesus' birthday party. Ruby was cracking me up, as usual. Check out her pan:

Later that evening, the kids all participated in a scavenger hunt. Seven little presents, numbered one through seven, were hidden around the house. Each child searched until they found a gift, but weren't allowed to open it yet. After all the gifts had been located, Grampies began to read the Christmas story. When he called out their number, they got to open their present and place the little figurines inside on a nativity set. Ruby was excited that she found the baby Jesus.

Grampies reading the story

Ruby with the baby Jesus

The last box contained something special -- it was said to hold what Jesus wanted for Christmas. The kids could hardly wait to find out what was inside. When Grampies opened the box, they discovered a mirror. What Jesus wanted for Christmas...was them! It was a sweet way to make the Christmas story come alive and remind the children just why Jesus came to earth.

Other activities included a Bible trivia game in which a correct answer earned each child a shot at "fishing" behind the counter (with a string on a stick) for a present, decorating personalized "coffee" mugs, and making Christmas cookies. Rosie especially liked the sprinkles.

One of Florie's creations

Another special part of the weekend was spending so much time with Nana, JP's grandmother. This was the first Christmas since Papa passed away last January, so it was bittersweet for all of us.

On Christmas Eve, we drove down to JP's mom & step-dad's home (G & Bompa) for our annual Christmas Eve brunch with them and JP's sister's family. G & Bompa always put together the most delicious brunch you've ever tasted, and I always end up eating until I can't possibly eat another bite.
Rosie is fully concentrated on her gift!

G & Bompa had a very, very big surprise for us this year. In addition to loading us up with good food, countless toys, overwhelming gifts and their precious tradition of personalized Christmas tree ornaments, they knocked our socks off with another amazing gift. Need a hint?

Those Disney princess ornaments are symbolic. The real gift was an all expense paid trip to DISNEY WORLD this spring! I guess Jiminy Cricket was right -- dreams really do come true!

Most of you know that G's mom, Grandma Dellas, passed away this summer as well. G told me that one of Gram's only regrets in life was that she didn't travel more; take her family to see the world, and make memories along the way. With the years passing as quickly as they are and the children growing so rapidly, they decided there's no time to waste -- we need to make memories now, while we can. This trip will certainly be a family memory we won't ever forget.

The Bottolene Family with the Disney Poster G made for the kids to remind them of the trip.

The celebration was meant to continue the next day at JP's uncle's house, but two of our children woke up sick on Christmas Day, and despite our efforts to pull things together, we failed to make it there. We're thankful for the beautiful time we had together on Christmas Eve, though, and for G & Bompa's memory-filled day.

G & Bompa with all six grandkids
One of Bompa's gifts was to finally have a photo with his grandbabies, and it turned out so cute!

On Christmas Eve night, we decided to stay home and do a small gift exchange with the kids, which is something we've never done before. We knew they would be receiving plenty of amazing gifts, but we had a couple small, special things we wanted to surprise them with. First up: something they had been requesting for months since they first saw the TV infomercial. Gyro Bowls!

According to the infomercial, the gyro bowl is supposed to prevent spills by remaining upright no matter which way you tip it. I did my research, and every single review I read said these things were pieces of junk and didn't work for squat. I knew the looks on their faces would be well worth whatever money we spent on them, and I was right. The girls thought it was the most amazing gift ever.

Almost immediately, Rae jumped to her feet and started giving us the whole pitch. "Dad! Do you know what the best part is? It's DISHWASHER SAFE for Mom! And look! It has a stay-fresh lid! And if you have nuts and bolts and stuff in your workshop you need to organize, you can use this! And Mom can take it into the office and use it to hold push pins and paper clips and stuff. You can take it wherever you go, however you get there!" Hilarious. She was only slightly dismayed when she tried dropping the bowl on the ground (like in the commercial) and her cheerios spilled everywhere.

JP and I weren't supposed to get each other gifts, but I couldn't resist when I found this sign for him at Cabela's a few months back. He hung it out on his workshop that same night.

Like I said before, Christmas Day started rough. Both Rosie and Ruby woke up sick, and Ruby was especially whiney. Still determined to go to our next celebration, I bathed the kids, got them dressed, did their hair, and cooked a potluck dish. Things kept getting worse and JP and I started getting really frustrated at each other and at the kids. The tension was high and Ruby was begging to take a nap, so we decided to let her rest and just arrive late. By the time she woke up, it would have been a two hour drive for an hour or less at the celebration, so we ended up staying home.

My side of the family celebrated the day after Christmas this year because my sister and her family were in Wisconsin for Christmas Day. My Dad's birthday also happens to be the day after Christmas, so we had reason to continue to celebrate anyhow! Mom prepared traditional Swedish potato sausage (one of my FAVORITE Christmas traditions) along with a huge and amazing spread for brunch. When my whole family is together, there are 12 adults and 11 kids under the age of six. All participants must be able to deal with high levels of noise, distinguish which diapers various smells are coming from, and carry on a conversation with someone across the room amid numerous distractions. If you can do all of those things, you'll have more fun than you ever thought possible. If you can't, you'll need to keep the aspirin handy! :)

I kid, but truly, it was a wonderful time. My brother Micah and his family were in town from their new home in Kentucky. Little Jeremiah had grown so much since I last saw him that I started crying when I saw him for the first time. It was a bittersweet reminder of how quickly they grow and how much we miss being so far away.

The kids all had so much fun playing together (with the exception of Ruby, who was still so miserable). At one point most of us went for a walk down by the creek. The kids threw sticks over the bridge, and Micah...well, he threw a Special Forces sized stick.

Nate and his girlfriend, Jenny.
My beautiful sister-in-law, Becky.
Rosie helping "walk" the dog.
Miserable Ruby trying to enjoy her giant horse.
While the kids were napping, the adults played the dice game. Rolling doubles means you get to pick a mystery gift out of the center of the circle. Once they are opened you play a second round, except this time doubles means you get to steal someone else's gift. It's funny...nobody seemed to want to steal Joe's winnings, but Nate was willing to model it for us. ;)

That was pretty...umm..."special," but perhaps the most special moment was when Mom sat us all down to read the Christmas story. She bought a beautiful book that was voice recordable and had Mee-Maw record her voice reading the book when she was last in Memphis. It certainly brought tears to all of our eyes and warmed our hearts.

Christmas is always a special time of year, but every year I'm reminded more and more of how blessed we are to have a Savior who made himself like us and suffered through this world along side of us, then defeated death so we can be with Him forever. No other false god has ever done that, or ever could. These song lyrics sum it all up:
How many kings step down from their thrones? How many lords have abandoned their homes? How many greats have become the least for me? And how many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart? How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only One did that for me.

Want to see more pictures? Click on these links.


Not Me! Monday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

I'm not sure if I'm planning to jump back on the "Not Me! Monday" bandwagon again, but today had too many good ones, I couldn't resist.

Today, Rae was not walking around with a blanket over her head. She certainly did not trip on JP's water jug and even if she had, she would never have fallen and busted her two front so badly that they went fleeing in opposite directions. One tooth would never have jolted forward while the other jumped backward, leaving her perfect, straight little teeth jagged and her already full lips bleeding and swollen.

If any of that had happened I wouldn't have wasted a trip to the only dentist open the Monday after New Years only for them to tell me there's nothing they would recommend doing except wait for the baby teeth to fall out and her permanent teeth to grow in.

Seeing her crooked little teeth wouldn't give me horrible flashbacks to my days before braces, when my two front teeth looked eerily similar to hers. I wouldn't cringe thinking of how I used to try to only smile with my mouth closed for fear of revealing them.

Thankfully, my darling, sweet girl doesn't care about such vanities, and is just as smiley as ever, even at her first ever dentist visit. :)

Overshadowed by all of this wouldn't be our dog, Gideon. On the final hunt of the season, he didn't corner a porcupine; and he certainly did not bite it, only to be punished with quills to his nose, tongue and mouth. Dumb dog.

Ok, so I guess that was only two stories.

The Christmas posts are still coming. I'm going to need a good chunk of time to sit down and record it all. You can view some pictures here and here and here and here. :)